ArticleUK Home Secretary admits wrongful detention, compensates activist

The Home Secretary of the United Kingdom, James Cleverly, has issued an apology and agreed to compensation for Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, a Bahraini human rights activist, following his unlawful detention at Gatwick Airport. This incident occurred upon Alwadaei’s return from a United Nations meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

Alwadaei, a torture survivor and prominent advocate for Bahraini political prisoners, was granted asylum in the UK in 2012 after fleeing persecution in Bahrain. On 29 September 2023, after addressing the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva about Bahraini political prisoners’ plight, Alwadaei was detained for over two hours by UK Border Force officials at Gatwick Airport without a clear explanation.

In response to a legal challenge initiated by Alwadaei’s lawyer, the UK government acknowledged the unlawful detention and offered a written apology from Cleverly, along with monetary compensation.

Alwadaei has been stopped multiple times at UK airports in the past, raising concerns about potential targeting due to his advocacy work and the UK’s diplomatic relations with Bahrain. The incident followed Bahrain’s £1 billion investment pledge to the UK and the subsequent removal of Bahrain from the UK’s human rights priority list, which some MPs questioned already.

This incident highlights the challenges faced by asylum seekers and human rights activists within the UK’s immigration system. The apology and compensation from the Home Secretary mark a significant acknowledgement of these challenges. The case underscores the need for a balanced approach that respects individual rights while maintaining border security, a task that continues to test the UK’s commitment to both its domestic laws and international human rights obligations.

Source: The Guardian

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